ACLU: America is riddled with politically motivated surveillance

A new ACLU report, "Policing Free Speech: Police Surveillance and Obstruction of First Amendment-Protected Activity," documents recent cases of politically motivated surveillance across America — cases in which people were put under surveillance "for doing little more than peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights."

At a California State University, Fresno lecture on veganism, six of the 60 in attendance were undercover officers from the local and campus police. The Oakland Police Department in California had infiltrated a police-brutality demonstration, and its undercover officers selected "the route of the march."

A vegetarian activist in Georgia was arrested for jotting down the license plate of a Department of Homeland Security agent who was snapping photos of a protest outside a Honey Baked Ham store. A Joint Terrorism Task Force in Illinois went on a three-day manhunt in Chicago searching for a Muslim man for his suspicious activity of using a hand counter on a bus. As it turned out, the man was counting his daily prayers.

A Kentucky minister was detained at Canadian border trying to enter the United States because he had purchased copies of the Koran on the internet following the 2001 terror attacks. A New York, Muslim-American student journalist was detained for taking pictures of Old Glory outside a Veterans Affairs building as part of a class project. The authorities deleted the pictures before releasing her an hour later.

ACLU Study Highlights U.S. Surveillance Society

ACLU: Policing Free Speech: Police Surveillance and Obstruction of First Amendment-Protected Activity (PDF)